Faculty of Arts


Emperors and Peasants: Society in Late Imperial China

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for HISTORY 322.


When people think of “imperial”, “traditional”, or “premodern" China the images and tropes that come to mind are usually from the Ming-Qing periods. The history of this late imperial period is of critical importance because it encompasses a time when China was the most advanced civilization in the world, set the stage for the tumultuous events of China’s “century of humiliation” and established numerous precedents for the relationship between Chinese state and society and for the formal and informal ways in which ordinary Chinese structure their lives.

This course is a broad survey of key political, social and cultural patterns that shaped the history of China from 1368 to 1800. Students who successfully complete this course will understand the basic structures of state and society during the Ming and Qing dynasties, including the imperial bureaucracy, key local institutions such as lineage and temple organisations, family and village relationships and the Confucian tradition. They will be acquainted with case studies that help them to understand daily life and local communities during the Ming and Qing periods. Finally, they will be able to identify points of continuity or historical resonance between Ming, Qing and twenty-first century China.


By the end of the course, you should have improved your ability:

  • to find and analyse primary sources (ie, first-hand accounts);
  • to read and critique secondary sources (ie, accounts written by historians);
  • to gather primary and secondary sources together into a research essay shaped by your own original argument;
  • to listen to and evaluate the arguments and opinions of others;
  • to cite and reference in a manner appropriate to the genre of historical writing;
  • to read efficiently and retentively;
  • to write in polished and professional English.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Lecturer(s) Dr Melissa Inouye


10% Class Participation

20% Primary Source Analysis

10% Research Essay Abstract and Outline

40% Research Essay

20% Final In-Class Test


HISTORY 322: 15.0 points


90 points passed



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